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The Duke Diet and Fitness Center Celebrates 50 Years!

November 26, 2019

Time flies! Can you believe it has been 50 years that the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has been helping people to improve their lifestyles and health? We are excited to announce this milestone and celebrate our achievements as well as all those victories of our thousands of clients.

By Will Yancy, Director of the Duke Diet and Fitness Center


Duke Diet and Fitness Center 50 Anniversary Logo
DFC 50th Anniversary Logo

A History of Service and Support

Duke Diet and Fitness Center (DFC) began 50 years ago in a Duke University Hospital ward with participants receiving a very low-calorie dietary program combined with medical management and exercise. The original dietary plan was austere and not overly appetizing, according to some of the clients who participated in the DFC’s early years. The exercise plans essentially consisted of walking inside the hospital ward or outside around the hospital grounds with little instruction or support. The clinical care was and continues to be, top-notch because it was staffed by Duke clinicians and supported by what is now the Duke Health System. However, dietary and exercise programs have seen a lot of innovation and growth over time!

Duke Diet and Fitness Center Today

Since those early years, DFC has evolved into a world-class weight loss, health improvement, and fitness center. It has substantially expanded its nutrition options, and meals are now not only delicious but also satiating, and include various eating patterns, from low-fat to low-carb to keto, to fit each individual's needs. The exercise options have also increased markedly, with a fully equipped gym and a beautiful indoor, heated salt-water pool. These features allow group classes, individual training, and personal training on land and in the water.  Another major development at the DFC was the incorporation of a behavioral health component, which is increasingly recognized by obesity experts (and our patients) as a key pillar in successful, long-term weight management. 

In addition to the extensive progression of the DFC’s programs, the program itself has made its home in various locations over the years, spending considerable time on West Trinity Avenue (in the old YMCA building I attended as a boy!) and eventually settling into its current location at 501 Douglas Street near Duke Hospital in 2008. The current DFC building was formerly a combination exercise facility (MetroSport) and a gourmet Mexican restaurant (Papagayo’s), so it was a perfect home for the DFC.

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Success in Weight Management and Beyond

With all of the changes over the years, several things have remained consistent. First, the DFC was, is, and will always be a place where patients can feel supported and special, treated in a non-judgmental atmosphere as they strive for better health alongside fellow clients who share common struggles and goals. Second, DFC patients continue to experience dramatic health improvements—lower blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol; increased mobility and stamina; better sleep; less pain; enhanced mood and more. And third, the DFC is a place where people can bond—clients with staff, and clients with other clients. Every summer there is a designated reunion month when graduate clients return to renew their bonds, but client reunions occur repeatedly throughout the year as well. DFC clients plan and return with fellow clients they met at their first visit or subsequent visits. DFC clients also return to interact with our fantastic staff, because they know that DFC staff will consistently provide the care, encouragement and cutting edge expertise that helps them to succeed.

Celebration of Excellence

Now it’s time to celebrate 50 years of DFC and all of the life-changing experiences our clients have had over those years. We will be hosting a celebration on March 25th, 2020 to recognize this great achievement with Duke leadership, DFC staff, and its clients. Come join us, if not on the week of the event, in one of the weeks leading up to the event because we plan to have guest speakers and other extra offerings to recognize how special DFC is.

The Duke Diet and Fitness Center is one of the leading medical weight loss programs and total body health destinations for individuals seeking to lose weight healthily. With the support of medical, fitness, behavioral health and nutrition professionals, clients can embrace a healthy lifestyle that is personalized and sustainable when they return home.  With comprehensive weight loss programs ranging from one to four weeks long, and outpatient services like medical, behavioral health and nutritional consultations, the Optifast program, and BOD POD testing, there is a customizable program and service for everyone. Learn more at www.dukedietandfitness.org, or call 1-800-235-3853 today!

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With more than 40-year years of experience in delivering wellness and weight loss programs, the Duke Diet and Fitness Center has established itself as one of the leading weight loss and total body health destinations for health conscious individuals seeking a residential style health program focused on natural weight loss.

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